Can you think of anyone who was treated more harshly than Jesus Christ? Consider the physical abuse Jesus suffered on our behalf.
When arrested, he was bound by the soldiers. Those who have been handcuffed testify that it is very painful to have one’s hands tied behind the back for a prolonged period.
Jesus spent the entire night standing trial before an improperly convened Jewish court. He was not only the victim of lies and ridicule, he was spit upon, blindfolded, slugged, and slapped by members of the Sanhedrin. Then, “the guards took him and beat him” (Mark 14:65).
In the morning Jesus was tried before Roman authorities for the purpose of gaining a death sentence. During this series of trials, Jesus was again mocked and taunted as an impostor. The soldiers “twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him” (Mark 15:17). His brow was punctured deeply by the long-thorned briar. The soldiers repeatedly struck Jesus on the head with a staff and they arrogantly spit on him (Mark 15:19). Jesus’ face must have been swollen, his eyes blackened, his nose bloodied by the abusive Roman soldiers who were anxious to punish an insurrectionist.
Then Pilate ordered Jesus flogged. Early historians assert that scourging was a most dreaded punishment. Bits of lead and stone made the whip a brutal, slashing instrument of terror, ripping a man’s back and legs to shreds, occasionally even tearing out an eye or slicing open an ear. Jesus was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
When forced to carry his own cross, the beam rubbed Jesus’ shoulders raw. When he stumbled and fell on the rough streets, he skinned his elbows and knees.
“And they crucified him” (Mark 15:24). Crucifixion was so horrible that the New International Study Bible states, “Only slaves, the basest of criminals, and offenders who were not Roman citizens, were executed in this manner.” Our sensibilities can’t imagine the horror of one’s hands and feet being nailed to a cross and one’s body being suspended naked above the gawkers and gloaters below. Every breath was a struggle for Jesus. Every movement produced jarring pain. But Jesus suffered the cruel and inhumane torture of crucifixion for six agonizing hours for us.
An ancient letter suggests that when Mary, Jesus’ mother, was escorted to the crucifixion, she looked up at the three crosses and asked, “Which one is he?” Jesus may have been beaten beyond recognition. The prophet Isaiah predicted that many would be appalled at him. “His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14).
All this and more, Jesus endured in our place. As Isaac Watts wrote in his hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
1. Peter wrote that Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). How can you express appreciation to the Son of God who suffered so much for you?
2. How does the reality of Jesus’s physical suffering affect the way you view your own personal suffering?
Paul Leavens is the Minister of Lindsay Christian Church. Visit the church website at www.lindsaychristianchurch.org.